Saturday, March 26, 2011


One of the books in my modest library is `Silence of the Heart` by David Frith.   It was published over ten years ago and it chronicled the tragic stories behind cricket`s alarming suicide rate.   It is a compelling account of over 100 cricketers who had taken their own lives, including some of the game`s most accomplished players such as Andrew Stoddart, Arthur Shrewsbury, Harold Gimblett, David Bairstow, Jack Iverson, Sidney Barnes and so on.

Now, just how many of those hundred or so cricketers suffered from a depression so severe that it drove them over the edge is uncertain but it`s a fair guess that the proportion is pretty high.   Years ago, in the final days of Gimblett - Bairstow even -  maybe the understanding of mental illness wasn`t what it is today, but thankfully these days the problems of players such as Marcus Trescothick, Mark Lathwell and now Michael Yardy are not only better understood but also accepted with a sympathy, understanding and level of support hithero unknown.

And then along comes Geoffrey Boycott.   He was, of course, an opening batsman for England in 108 Test Matches, scoring over 8,000 runs at an average of nearly 48.   He was also something less than a team player - playing more for himself and his record - as witnessed by the number of teammates he ran out whilst scrambling for his own ground.   As the archetypal blunt, hard nosed Yorkshireman, you wouldn`t really expect him to have much sympathy with the likes of Michael Yardy, who has just returned from the World Cup suffering from what seems to be cricket`s own version of depression.

`Not depressed, just not good enough,` announced Boycott whilst giving his verdict on Yardy`s departure from the scene.   `It was always going to be too much for him at this level.   He was always going to be a liability,` he went on...and on...and on.  

In these more enlightened times, we are entitled to expect more from a `pundit,` however good his own international record might have  been, for that record does not give him or anyone else the right to comment, even less to criticise, someone who is clearly in need of understanding and support.   It really won`t do.   Not good enough.   And it`s time for Boycott and his neanderthal sensitivities to be given out.   Run out, in fact.

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